Your Thread to Keep You Occupied For Today: Thursday
Posted on October 8, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 136 Comments
Leaving aside the fact that the contest noted in the previous entry is full of delicious procrastinatory goodness (and even comes with a prize!), your Thread to Keep You Occupied For Today:
Describe the thing from your childhood, meant to amuse you, which in fact creeped the hell out of you. NOTE: This is meant to be a specific person, object, or thing. Don’t just say “clowns!” We all know about clowns, man. Zero in on a particular, if you please.
Most of the Disney movies from the 70s and early 80s. The live action ones with child actors as the stars. A lot of those were scary as hell for me as a youngster, but were always billed as being family friendly.
I can think of plenty of things that were meant to terrify me that amused me, but very few things that were meant to amuse me that terrified me…
I’ll just say the Hollywood Strip ca. 1991.
Watching “Land of the Lost”! Specifically the Sleestacks. To this day those freaky things get under my skin.
I used to love Willy Wonka (With Gene Wilder) when I was a kid. Sometime around the age of 13 I was watching the movie and the Oompa Loompa scene freaked me out. It was a full blown aniety/panic attack brought on by those little devils.
I have never been able to watch that movie since that day and even now thinking of those creepy orange skinned monsters makes my skin crawl.
And even writing about it gets that accursed song in my head…
Not quite a thing but a story. Grandpa Blevins used to tell the cousins, which included me, stories late at night down in the basement by the big coal furnace. Hot and glowing orange, it was a wonderful place to scare the hell out of us brats. One tale was that of the Mudcreek Devil. The story was not that frightening. However, it was upsetting. It had no resolution, no ending. It just sort of meandered out of events. This bugged the hell out of me and was the source of many a childhood dream involving hunts for a conclusion. Later, when I studied folklore, I realized that the story, although set in WV, was most likely centuries old and was a pooka (that’s pwca for those of you who know Cymric) tale from the British Isles. And the ending had been lost over the years. Still creeped me out and bugged me.
My 45 record player. It only worked in high-speed reverse, so all my 1970s records sounded like 1980s metal.
Ghostbusters. The movie. Especially the scene about the fridge.
My Pet Monster. Or the beast in Neverending Story. That thing scared the crap out of me.
Doctor Who – specifically, the series with Tom Baker as the Doctor. Ye gods, the Daleks. What the hell were my parents thinking? “Exterminate! Exterminate!”
I still have the occasional bad dream about the Dalek leader. ::shudder::
Also, the trippy beginning and theme music always gave me a horror-tinged thrill.
Chongo from the Banana Splits scared the hell out of me. What the hell was wrong with that guy?
Up until I was 5, I would watch Dark Shadows religiously. And yet whenever Barnabas Collins was on screen, I’d bawl like a…
Well, pretty much like the toddler I was. However, I would pitch a tantrum if my mother changed the channel.
Even funnier was when the reruns aired when I was in my teens. After a few early eps that were sufficiently creepy, the cheese effect kicked in, and Dark Shadows became one big giggle fest.
“I found THIS scary?” I asked my mom.
“Yes,” she said, “and you wouldn’t stop bawling if I put it on Mike Douglas whenever you got scared.”
“Yeah, mom, but Joey Bishop is scarier than vampires.”
Shhh..video games. Atari, and Nintendo.
The blocky pixelated characters from Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. Space Invaders, Galaxia, Dig Dug’s exploding bugs, all just effing creeped me out.
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and there was a local TV show featuring The Cool Ghoul. That guy was mega creepy. Even as an adult I find him creepy and not entertaining at all.
I used to have to hide behind the couch when the “J Train” came on during Sesame Street. There was something post-apocalyptic about the background, and combined with its voice, it was just too much for a toddler to handle…
@14 Opiwan, I have another either Sesame Street or Electric Company moment. There was something called “Cowboy X” (or was it “O”). Yeah…that about creeped me out. There was a howling wolf sound in it that…*shudder*
Electric Company also had this thing called “Letterman” (It’s a word, it’s a plan…it’s LETTERMAN!). The villian, “Spellbinder”, creeped me out too.
Where the Wild Things Are. My mother read it to me all the time when I was a child and it always scared the hell out of me, but I kept coming back for more. Now, when I see the trailer for the movie on television, it makes me feel oddly nostalgic.
My grandmother had this coconut with a face painted on it on the dresser right by the door to her room. I had recurring nightmares about it coming alive and chasing me like a rabid coconut shaped tribble. I’m still not terribly fond of coconut.
Sock Monkeys – as seen here:
I’m not sure I can say with honesty that the object I’m about to describe was meant to _amuse_ me, per se, but here goes:
A large (3′ x 4′) Victorian painting of two naked cherubic children, teasing a cat which they have in a rustic wicker bird-cage-like affair. The object they are using to tease the cat? Live mouse with a string tied to its tail.
I can’t begin to tell you how much that painting freaked me out.
My big bird talking alarm clock. I loved this thing. My parents bought it for me in preschool because I was so hard to get up in the morning. I did much better with the clock until one morning when the batteries were starting to wear out. Big birds voice got lower and lower and at 4 I was convinced big bird was actually “dying” in front of me. Also any of those animatronic characters at what was once Showbiz Pizza. I was always scared even as an 8 yr old that I would get locked in there and in the dark they would come to life and chase me. It has now morphed into Chuck E Cheese. But those things still give me the creeps. :)
Appaently, aged about four I asked my mum about Santa, as while pro-presents, I was getting increasingly concerned about the weird fat dude in the red dress up costume who apparently was going to not only come into the house while I was sleeping, but even into my ROOM to leave a stocking. I also thought coming down the chimney was stupid, as our house was heated by wood fires and so he would not make it, I thought.
My mum, apparently with a straight face, agreed to meet him at the front door in future to get the presents. Which is why throughout my childhood, we hung the carrots for the Reindeer and the mince pies for Santa in a small bag on our front door, not on the mantlepiece.
Sad to say, I am still the guy who points out the risks in otherwise fun pursuits.
Scooby Doo. Natch. Especially that episode with the glowing, electrified alien. Which they then saw fit to include in the intro montage. Brilliant.
Mom and Dad brought home an Alaskan Malamute when I was about eight or nine. We named him Cochise and he was a very loyal dog, perhaps too loyal. And hungry, too.
I had a pet hamster, and took it out of the cage to show my friends. Cochise grabbed it out of my hand and killed it with one bite. In front of my friends.
The neighbors had a chicken coop. Cochise augmented his dinner with their chickens. Repeatedly.
A bigger kid (maybe about 12?) up the street had a St. Bernard. Cochise and the other dog got into a fight, loud and nasty. The kid took a hose with a high-pressure nozzle and turned it on the fighting dogs. Cochise didn’t like that, so he bit off the kid’s ear as a warning.
So, while I never felt personally threatened by my pet dog, I was always aware that he was a potential threat… and it was kind of creepy to be so wary of your doggie.
Wikipedia has this to say about the breed:
The Malamute retains more of its original form and function than many other modern breeds. If a dog owner cannot cope with a dog that will not comply with the owner’s every command, a more compliant breed should be selected. This dog has a long genetic foundation of living in the harshest environment imaginable, and many of its behaviors are evolved to conform with “survival of the fittest.” Independence, resourcefulness and primitive behaviors are common in the breed.
There is reason to believe that Alaskan Malamutes cope poorly with smaller animals, including canines; however, this has been difficult to document in detail beyond observational data. It is difficult to pinpoint why many Malamute owners have observed this behavior with smaller animals, though some might speculate this is due to the Malamute’s uniquely divergent ancestry, at one point cross-breeding with wolves. Due to their naturally evolved beginnings, the malamute tends to have a heightened prey drive when compared to some other breeds of dog. So while Malamutes are, as a general rule, particularly amiable around people and can be taught to tolerate other pets, it is necessary to be mindful of them around smaller animals and young children.
I wonder if my parents knew about the breed before they brought Cochise home? Oh, and just to close the loop, we had to give Cochise away after the ear-biting incident. He went to a nice home in the Lake Arrowhead area up in the mountains where the climate was much colder.
My dad collected hobo clown figurines, a la Emmett Kelly, which he kept on a shelf in his bedroom. A shelf which, in the wee hours of the night, was bathed in the eerie blue-grey light of the streetlight filtering through the window. He *said* he kept them because he liked them; I think he collected them to keep us from running to our parents’ room in the middle of the night.
The opening sequence of The Muppet Show scared the bejeebers out of me as a little kid, that part where the big muppets come walking down the stage.
I have no idea why — looking at it now, the part that scared me is maybe three seconds long. Who knows what goes through the head of a three year old….
I was deathly afraid of my cabbage patch kid. I was worried it was going to come to come to life and kill me. I had watched a Twilight Zone episode as a small child about a doll coming to life and trying to kill “her” family. At one point the father had the doll’s head in a vise grip and was squeezing the head. The doll laughed and said, “You can’t kill me!” (This was prior to the Chucky movies, which I have never seen specifically because of my doll phobia.)
I so, so, so, badly wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid, and we waited months for it to arrive. And then one girl (at a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, actually) told me that some Cabbage Patches kill their families. And my Cabbage Patch Kid (I think her name was Emmie) lived in the living room from then on. I think I really disappointed my mom, because I was a total tomboy growing up, and this was my first (and last) foray into doll ownership.
I think most kids are scare of this, but that damn Jack-in-the-box thing that you would crank and it would play “pop goes the weasel” and then jump out at you? Yeah, I screamed and not in a good way. I never understood why my parents didn’t just throw it away once they understood how much I hated the thing. I couldn’t even sleep with it in the same room.
I grew up (and still live) in Dayton, Ohio. I loved The Cool Ghoul on WXIX, Ch 19. OTOH, in Dayton, we had Doctor Creep, who hosted Shock Theatre on Ch 22. He was all over the weekend, and had creepy characters. He was supposed to be funny, and scary, and some of his sidekick charcters that were supposed to be funny creeped me out.
Dr. Creep is still around, and makes appearances at Foy’s in Fairborn & other local places around Halloween. He also makes appearances for local children’s charities. He’s a good guy, but his laugh can still creep me out…
I don’t know if it was meant to amuse me, actually I’m sure it was not, but I was always freaked out by my elder sister’s pyscho mood swings. We were great friends until she turned 13, then bang, every conversation was Dr Jekyl and Mrs Hyde.
Two films — Disney’s “Cinderella,” and “Annie,” the one with Carol Burnett in it.
That cat was called LUCIFER. I was a very religious 6-year-old. And then the guys on black horses came hunting Cinderella with their red-lined capes like demons from hell. Gracious.
And I could not get over the baddies who tried to beat on Little Orphan Annie’s hands so she’d fall off a bridge. Again, six years old — could not handle that grown ups would treat children that way.
It’s nice to be old now, in a place where “Cinderella” is boring and “Annie” is fun to sing along to with a heart full of nostalgia.
And oh my god, I had to leave the auditorium when they should “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” when I was in first grade. That boy got sucked up a pipe! What is not horrifying about that, I ask you!
I was also creeped out by the line “All the wicked shadows going tramp tramp tramp” (I think that was the line) in a Robert Louis Stevenson. I must’ve fixated on the word “wicked.”
Jesus, I was fragile.
Just remembered another one.
There was one episode of Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, where there are these little balls of…something that grow big and monstrous and there’s some other dimension or world involved. Mix in the already psychadelic aspects of the show and I had nightmares for a while.
One of my brothers used to scream in mind-numbing terror whenever that Mr. Big chocolate bar ad came on with the glam rocker and the snake set to “You Really Got Me”. Never understood why.
Another vote for Santa Claus. All of the reports had me seriously weirded out. Come on — the guy watches you for a month (“He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake”), and then waits until you’re asleep to break into your house. If anyone else did that, you’d be getting a restraining order.
I actually got to the point of stringing up tripwires on the stairs and balancing a bucket of bouncy-balls over my bedroom door on Christmas Eve, so I could be sure that creepy dude wasn’t going to come in and watch me sleep. My poor parents.
Another one that creeps me out is large collections of teddy bears. I think it’s their beady little eyes. (“The teddy bears picnic… ON YOUR FLESH.”)
The board game “Operation”. My parents bought it for me for a birthday, maybe my seventh, and I played about half a game before the incredible stress of the loud buzzer interrupting a delicate task became too much.
Once, alone in the house, I was in my sister’s room for some reason, and the Ken doll on her barbie shelf winked at me. (I swear!!!)
I ran out of that room to my Grandmother’s house (next door) and was never comfortable alone around those things again.
My brother made a makeshift ‘doll’ out of plastic dinner-ware that we called Spoonman. The hands were forks, the legs were knives, and the face was a spoon with eyes, nose, and mouth in sharpie on the concave side facing out–depending on the pitch and yaw, you’d get a smile or a frown.
Spoonman was the source of my night terrors for at least a year, and it didn’t take my older brother long to figure that out. (“Spoonman’s in the furnace room!” or “Spoonman’s in your closet!”)
The Soundgarden song of the same name was released when I was in my teens, but still it brought back less-than-pleasant memories.
Teddy Ruxpin. Particularly when combined with a viewing or two of Child’s Play. Just wrong, like one of those abandoned robots in A.I.
Though I think it was made to teach little kids how to behave, the book Struwwelpeter freaked me out when I was a kid. So much that my Oma burned it while I watched.
You can check it out yourself here.
The copy that I remember had that same original artwork.
We used to put religious preachings or any strange audio cassettes we could get our hands on inside of Teddy Ruxpin. Listening to him talk abou Satan and the fires of hell always made us laugh.
Another “Electric Company” bit: Remember when they introduced Spider-Man segments to the show? There was a villain called Dr. Fright – so horrifically ugly that he wore a massive top hat which covered his entire head. He’d reveal his face to his victims (though never to the camera), paralyzing them with fear so he could rob them.
Freaked. Me. OUT. Probably my first great lesson in how terror of the unknown is often far worse than the real thing.
When I was a small boy, “The Wizard of Oz” played Thanksgiving evening on CBS. I was five years old and my parents thought I would love it just as they had. They had read the book as children and seen the movie during its original release in theaters as teens.
Elmira Gulch on the bicycle was bad enough, but her Ozian counterpart, the Wicked Witch had me cowering behind the sofa. Just as I calmed down, what do we see? Animated apple trees! Flying Monkeys! Aargh!
Too much for a boy with an overactive imagination.
It took me until the 50th Anniversary Edition to make my peace with that film.
I never forgave my parents, though.
But, but, but….clowns are scary. All of them. They’re either out to strangle/kill/eat you or molest children.
Fine, then. The Incredible Hulk. Perhaps Lou Ferrigmo (I know I spelled his name wrong but I’m not looking it up so there) was not meant to amuse, necessarily, but the show was at least supposed to be entertaining. However, it terrified me as a child. I’d have horrible nightmares if I ever happened to watch it.
One of the stories in the Dr. Seuss “Sneetches” book scared the bejeezus out of me. I have no idea what it was about, but the illustrations were all in sort of pea-green and muddy indigo. The main character as I recall was a disembodied pair of pants. Every time I turned the page, more empty but sentient pants. At the point where they were standing on a barren desert-scape punctuated by creepy Seussian woobly looking trees, all lanky and tufted, I freaked the hell out. Everytime I re-read that book (which was awesome, so that was frequent) I had to flip through those pages really fast. This is especially ridiculous when you consider that instead of a teddy bear, I had a Nauga as a security “plushie”.
Also, the wicked witch in Disney’s Snow White movie. Mom brought me to a screening when I was about four and she said I didn’t scream or cry when the witch was onscreen, but I did quietly turn around in my seat. This happened again many years later when the Nazgul first appeared in FOTR. Didn’t realize I was turning around until my friend poked me.
The Dark Crystal. My mother thought I loved it and kept renting it for me. And I kept having nightmares.
You bear a passing resemblance to Red Sox manager Tito Francona.
No offense putting this into the horror column, it’s just how things worked out.
When I was very young (three or four), one of my aunts read stories to me from a collection whose title I don’t know. They all involved children meeting horrible ends — I remember one child being consumed by his sandbox while his parents watched unawares, and another involving hordes of insects.
They were the first, and very nearly last, thing to ever give me nightmares. And the nightmares from that one lasted a long time.
@39 OMG I remember Dr. Fright! (I was also disturbed by how Spidey was so utterly silent.)
My Uncle Tommy used to chase me, my brother, and his son around the yard with his pocket knife, threatening to “cut [our] peters off” if he caught us. The most memorable occasion was once at twilight when I was maybe 11 or 12. It was nearly dark. He had chased us around the house two or three times, then he cut through the house and came out the back door as we rounded the corner into the back yard. He broke down on us and brandished that knife. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if I ever thought he would really castrate me if he caught me, but I wasn’t about to stick around to find out for sure. Until the day he died I was never really comfortable around him. It was weird.
The Rockabye Baby sing creeps me out to this day. Sure, it starts out all nice, in the top of a tree (who puts a baby at the top of a tree?!), then the bough breaks, and the cradle falls, and the I’m lying there in the humus and leaves, broken and twisted, and it’s dark and cold, and the wolves come, and eat me. Sometimes there’s also a forest fire.
I had this Little Red Riding Hood/Granny/Wolf doll that could be all three characters depending on which way you turned it. One end had Red’s head and torso, but under her long skirt where her legs should be was Granny’s head and torso. If that wasn’t creepy enough if you took off Granny’s cap, there was the Wolf! I had to keep granny’s sleeping cap firmly on because the wolf face growing out of the back of granny’s head was just too much.
OMG! they are still available! http://www.thefind.com/family/browse-flip-dolls-red-riding-hood
If you need me, I’ll be under the bed.
We had a cabin on a lake and one of the big ‘treats’ was to row a boat out into the middle of the lake and swim to shore. I became convinced that there was a massive snapping turtle that was coming for me, and I swam for shore, certain every time that I was going to lose a toe, or worse…
Also, Ultraman… specifically the big monsters he fought would send me over the back of the couch every time, but I kept coming back…
Sinistar. ‘Nuff said.
I was afraid of Mr. T wheni was a child. I’m talking the Clubber Lang version. When he put out his rap song about treating your Mother well, when he introduced his breakfast cereal, or when he appeared as a sympathetic character on The A Team, I thought it was just a ploy to make him LOOK friendly so that he could lure children to him and eat them.
The 1963 version of the movie The Incredible Journey. To this day I won’t watch lost animal movies of any kind.
I was terrified of the Abominable Snowman from the “Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer” Christmas special
Not me, but my daughter (who is four). I took her to a small circus this summer, and part of the clown’s act was that, after being scolded by the ringmaster, he pretended to cry, walked over to the edge of the ring, and *shot streams of water out of his eyes onto the crowd*.
This really freaked her out. Even now, whenever the subject of clowns comes up, she says “I don’t like clowns. I don’t like the way they shoot tears out of their eyes.”
Beetlejuice. Hint: if you’re young enough, the comedy part of “horror comedy” vanishes entirely. And then you’re covering your eyes and ears, waiting five seconds, and then looking see something even worse and more bizarre every time; and then the seance/exorcism scene comes and all of a sudden you’re certain you won’t ever sleep again.
In the early 70s, there was a character on Sesame Street that scare the ever-living crap out of me. I was around three or four when I first saw and, I remember jumping off my parent’s bed and hiding in their closet whenever “Sam the Robot” (thank you, Wikipedia) came on screen.
I shit you not, when I saw this picture:
just now, my stomach dropped and my hear skipped a beat.
It was mostly the voice, which had this weird modulated effect, but also the eyes, which kind of bounced around and didn’t focus on whomever the robot talked to.
Charlie Chaplin. Not him, actually, but the guy who impersonated him on Sesame Street. Now I can’t see a picture of Charlie Chaplin without freaking out. Also – Dumbo and jello. Seriously people – food should not wiggle of its own volition!
I was the scardiest little kid ever, seriously. The ghosts from Scooby Doo scared me. The doorknob in my bedroom was a scary face. I used to RUN down the stairs, just in case something came out of my parents’ room to chase me. (Yeah, I fell down the stairs a lot as a kid!) Oh, the Vincent Price bit at the end of Thriller. When I heard that on the radio, I’d put a pillow over my head.
The owl from Bambi.
Yes, Bambi. That most innocent and docile-spirited Disney flick, source of many, MANY nightmares of owls pecking my eyes out. I’ve always been a little creeped out by owls ever since. You can imagine my feelings when I found out the mascot of the high school I was to be attending was, in fact, an owl…horrors…
The monkeys and lollipop kids in the Wizard of Oz freaked me out. They still do.
Scrappy Do. Still makes my skin crawl.
My mother thought this sort of programming would reinforce “strong moral values” (as if morality comes only from strong opinions).
I still get the impression that sort of bedtime sappiness is a cover up for baser nocturnal crimes.
Who over-reinforces like that?
Then again, I haven’t watched in years – so maybe I’m remembering it wrong…
For some reason, a specific portion Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida always creeped the hell out of me. It’s after the long drum solo, where the guitarist (Erik Brann) makes these horrible screeching sounds with his guitar. It sounds vaguely like a charging elephant, only spookier. I used to lift the needle to skip that part, because hearing it made my skin crawl. (Yes, that’s how you skipped part of a song back then. Now get off my lawn.)
In 1953 or 4, when I was 5 or 6, my parents let me go to the movie “War of the Worlds.” (Probably not the greatest idea, but I was an SF fan even then). The Martian invaders creeped me out. I can still remember them vividly fifty-some years later. Must not have been too traumatizing though, because I also clearly remember that summer going out to watch Mars rise over the Atlantic at Jacksonville Beach, during the summer of 1954, during one of its close approaches.
Buster Bear. This was a stuffed bear that, when squeezed, would make a fart sound. For some reason, back then, I was so fricken scared of that thing. No doubt my dad bought it for us.
Also, that Harry Nillson special, “The Point.” And the vinyl. I think it was supposed to be edifying, or somesuch.
Always felt smothered in grey foggy endlessness, when it was on the tube or the turntable.
There was an episode of the animated Superman from the 70s where scientists were locked in one of the cylinders of a giant diesel engine, waiting for Superman to rescue them. For some reason, the shot of the hot diesel fuel slowly flowing into the engine creeped me out as a child. I loved the Superman cartoon, but would leave the room for the 30 seconds or so when that was happening.
We had Halloween decorations when I was a kid, a kind of standard set– the school had the same ones. Except the witch’s, skull’s, and pumpkin’s eyes followed.
One year, Mom and I made a ritual of going through the house before bed and turning each of them to face the wall.
I also had a formative nightmare about the church near my grandmother’s house, but that church was *scary*.
My grandmother. Nuff said…
Not one of mine (still thinking on that) but my daughter’s: when she was ~4 years old, my father sent her a smallish gorilla that would play and move to The Macerena song. She was terrified of it for years, so we stuck it in the garage.
Years later, we found it again, it still played and moved to the Macerena, and she looked at it, puzzled. “I’m not scared of this anymore,” she said, “but it’s still weird and creepy.”
We donated it to Goodwill a few days later.
My parents made me watch “The Wizard of Oz” every time it came on TV. They didn’t seem to understand that if I was hiding from them before it came on, that it meant I didn’t want to watch it. They thought my sister and I were just playing. No, we really do hate it, Mom. Also, under the dining room table isn’t a very good hiding place.
Will Vinton’s claymation version of Rip Van Winkle. Not the whole thing, just the part in the middle when he meets up with the group that are drinking and bowling in the forest. The effects they use to simulate Rip getting drunk and the partying just freaked me out when I was a kid.
And the flying blobs from Star Trek: TOS ‘Operation: Annihilate.’
Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. Ventriloquism in general has always creeped me out. The skill itself I can respect, in the objective, but the dolls are invariably freakish and terrifying and many of the practitioners I’ve seen just come across as odd birds.
I (and my sisters and brother) were made to take swimming lessons. The older two seemed to do all right, but my younger sister and myself (4 & 6) hated it. As I recall, we spent our lesson time playing on the steps in the shallow end. Occasionally, we’d be thrown in the deep end to see if we had somehow magically learned to swim. At least once, we hid by getting in the bathroom stalls and standing on the toilets. To this day, neither my sister or I swim at all well, and we refer to that portion of our childhood as the Eva Braun Swim School period.
The Count on Sesame Street. I would be up like a shot the moment he came on the screen, and telling everyone loudly that I had to go to the bathroom, I would RUN into the hallway and turn on a light. Just the erratic motion of the bats — puppet bats with visible sticks, I might add — and his teeth, and that laugh, that awful laugh after he counted things.
The boat-and-tunnel sequence from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory scared the ever-living bejesus out of me as a child. It still creeps me out to this day. And while the images are scary, I think it’s really Gene Wilder’s scary-calm shrieking during the ride that really makes the freaky.
Also, the bit during The Dark Crystal where the bad guy is draining the life essence out of the girl hero (Kira?) gave me nightmares.
Neither of these things kept me from watching both of these movies about a hundred billion times, of course.
Mr. Rogers, specifically the royal hand puppets that lived in the castle along side the monorail. I loved the rest of the show, but there was something about those puppets that was just evil.
I hate wigs and anything in wigs. This includes clowns, Halloween costumes, narrative actors at historical monuments, mannequins, and the like. And because most doll hair looks like wigs, dolls in general. (Stuffed animals are okay.) My mother’s dolls which she tried to hand down for us to play with: Ew.
But don’t you know the secret of ‘bumbles? They bounce!
@ 58 — I think the Sesame Street Charlie Chaplin impersonator was Maria!
@58 again — kindred spirit! I don’t actually remember this, but my parents have told me that I absolutely refused to eat jello as a young child, very logically, because “it’s… moving.” (I still don’t eat it.)
I also failed to appreciate the genius of Wile E. Coyote until my freshman year of college. Those cartoons turned me into a child who would not watch TV of her own volition until I was 11. At which point I got freaked out by Mumm-ra on “Thundercats.” (That show was awesomely mockable, though — I was like a one-girl Television Without Pity.)
(I still hate Tom & Jerry. Never learned to appreciate that one, belatedly or otherwise.)
The movie “Labyrinth”–specifically the “helping hands” and the talking door-knockers, for some reason. There are a lot of creepy things in that movie, but that’s what I remember really giving me nightmares when I was 5 or 6.
Sesame Street for me, again, but different Muppet. In the early days, there was a monster Muppet known as Frazzle, who …
Well, see for yourself.
I mean, DEAR GOD THAT’S BEELZEBUB. And he made a noise to match his appearance, kind of like a dozen metal spoons caught in a garbage disposal. He even had his own song!
Thanks, Children’s Television Workshop, for filling up my nightmare tank.
When I was about six or seven, all I wanted for Christmas was this life size (3 feet tall) walking, talking doll. Well I got the doll, but when it was taken out of the box and started moving and talking, it scared me so badly my parents had to take it back!
ET scared the crap out of me when I saw it as a kid, specifically the government people in the white suits who came for him. The movies Legend, The Black Cauldron, and The Neverending Story also creeped me out pretty badly, they were way too scary for a little kid.
Mummenschanz. They were a European pantomime group that had an appearance on the muppet show when I was very young (three, I think). Although critically lauded, the artistry was lost on my three year old self as the changing abstract faces and creeptastic, black-clad modern dance moves haunted my nightmares for YEARS.
Also, Pong. I don’t really have a reason for that one, though.
Back in the long ago days of 1957 there was an LA County attraction known as Santa Claus Village. One of the attractions there along with the gingerbread and elves and etc. were the characters from the Oz books.
I’m three years of age. I’ve just climbed up this real tall ladder to a real high slide (well, to me, a three year old) and I’m about to go down that slide. When up walks this apparition, all sticks and straw, topped by a pumpkin for a head. He startled me, and being three I started to cry. And then he tried to lure me into his maw so he could devour my tender flesh. (Vivid imagination on my part.)
I later learned the idjit wearing the costume thought he was helping. Mom tried to tell him he wasn’t, and he refused to listen to her. Dad had to practically pull Mom off the dang fool by main force, and Dad was 250 pounds of machinist mate in the US Navy to Mom’s 135 pounds of maternal rage.
And that’s my story of how something supposed to be amusing was anything of the sort.
Oh, also my parents used to have this little statue that I guess was supposed to be funny. It was a smiling chimpanzee holding a bowling ball. I don’t think anything has ever scared me more than that stupid chimp statue! They showed it to me when they got it, when I was maybe three or four, and I just started screaming and crying and didn’t stop until they took the damn thing away. I couldn’t even look at it without getting hysterical, so they couldn’t keep it in the house and ended up leaving it in the garage for the next 20 years or so. I don’t know what ever happened to that thing, but the thought of it still creeps me out. In fact to this day I still don’t like chimps or other apes.
Willy Wonka’s already been mentioned, so I won’t repeat it. Seeing that movie once, and probably not even the whole thing, just bits and pieces, was enough for me.
The other thing that readily comes to mind is the Heffalumps and Woozles part of the Winnie the Pooh animations. Granted, it’s a nightmare sequence anyway, but it’s probably supposed to be amusing to kids. I wasn’t even very young when I saw it, I think, unless I saw it when I was much younger and forgot about it until my sister (ten years my junior) got the Winnie the Pooh tapes when she was a few years old, meaning I was in my early teens. I still don’t like it.
I had forgotten about this until reading Alan Kellogg’s comment, but I think when I was maybe four or five I was scared by the illustration on the cover of Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. This was before I was reading the Oz books myself; it stopped bothering me after I did.
Oh, and the dinosaur sequence in Fantasia really upset(s) me, with its depiction of all the dinosaurs dying. I found other reasons to dislike Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, but that was the first one. It may also be related to why the La Brea Tarpits in LA creep me out, although that’s not exactly supposed to be amusing to begin with. But I guess dinosaurs are usually presented as being fun and interesting to kids and the tarpits are rather too big a dose of reality. Especially since there are statues of a mammoth getting sucked in while its mate and offspring are on the shore reaching toward it in despair…. *shudder* Hint: not a good field trip for kids with vivid imaginations. Even if you’re not specifically into dinosaurs, there are spots right there in the grass that people play on where tar wells up and they just put a traffic cone over it. It’s all too easy to imagine the field turning into a tarpit under your feet, even when you’re 34 (the age I was when I last saw it, thanks to the art museum being on the same grounds).
I mainly wanted to comment that @17’s “rabid coconut shaped tribble” is the best phrase I’ve heard all day. I’m going to try to work it into casual conversation.
My five-year-old doesn’t like the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory due to the Augustus Gloop pipe scene. He was fine with everything else, including the freaky boat trip bit, but refuses to watch the movie again because of ol’ Augustus.
I loved the trolley in Mr Roger’s neighbourhood, I would tune in just waiting for it to appear. But whenever that little bell sounded, a deep apprehension would steal over me, and I would immediately grab the remote control with a finger poised ready to change channels. I knew that after the trolley came… the puppets. (You know, the ones that all looked like Jonathan Harris.)
One time I didn’t grab the remote fast enough, and as Mr Rogers headed towards the rear doorway, I ran out of the room. I didn’t return for several hours.
Augustus Gloop was a very bad kid. Don’t be like him.
By the way, Mrs. Gloop’s fear that they “boiled him up” is completely unjustfied. Chocolate hot enough to burn human skin is already ruined as chocolate, and probably looks more like coffee grounds than anything else..
There was this cartoon short I remember seeing back when I was five or six (no idea what the title was, but as I recall it, it was in the 1950s MGM’s Droopy/Tom & Jerry style). In it, a man and a dog were both involved in a car crash. The ambulance shows up, and the EMT jumps out with a bottle of human blood in one hand, and a bottle of dog blood in the other. He looks from one victim to the other, then from one bottle to the other. Then he looks at the camera, makes a goofy face, and twists his arms around so that the wrong blood goes to the wrong patient. As one might expect, hilarity then ensues as the dog spends the next nine minutes acting like a man, and vice versa.
But, by God, the idea that, if I got hurt, some whacked out medico might accidentally turn me into a dog, still haunts me…
My mother bought me a stuffed king cobra fighting a stuffed mongoose. I mean real taxedermied animals. In my bedroom. At night.
They cast *shadows*.
Paddleballs, those balls on a string attached to a paddle. When I screwed up as a kid, my parents would go to Walmart, buy one, bring it home, make me cut the string and the ball off of the paddle, and then apply said paddle. I was twenty years old before I realized it was supposed to be a toy.
I’m surprised at how many posters chose visual media things — TV and movies. Not a lot of actual *people*.
Well, when I was six, my recently-divorced Mom was dating a man named Jan. One day we were all riding in the station wagon when Jan, in the passenger’s seat, blew up a balloon and turned around to hand it to me (I was in the backseat on the driver’s side).
I didn’t really want a balloon at that time, but i have nothing against balloons.
Then the guy started knocking the balloon back and forth while spouting some silly crap more appropriate to a one-year-old.
His whole attitude from the get-go was really creeping me out. Then the balloon popped when he nicked it with a fingernail.
That took it from creepy to downright terrifying. I started screaming my head off and Mom (who was driving) had to stop the car and spend the better part of fifteen minutes calming me down. She never could understand why I reacted so strongly (to her, it was just that a bursting balloon scared me — she had no idea how creepy the guy was leading up to it, and I couldn’t find the words to tell her).
I never looked that guy in the eyes again. Happily, she stopped dating him only a month or so later.
It is important to note that the trauma had to do with that guy — NOT the balloon. Balloons have always been fine by me.
I can think of a couple. The earliest was when my folks took us to see “2001” at the drive-in. The monolith haunted my waking nights for days afterwards. With that creepy choir! *shudder.*
Another freak-out was while watching “Gremlins” in the theater. Cripes, I was a teenager, but I had to get up and leave the movie. Couldn’t stand the little buggers.
Getting sung Happy Birthday to. I cried at the Big Wheel Restaurant in Muncie when I was three or four and they sang Happy Birthday to me, and didn’t start allowing it until I was about forty.
Ryan, what was that, the citified version of making you cut your own switch? That’s just weird.
Beatrix Potter- ugh – animals dressed up as humans and then the hero gets rolled up in pastry – aaarrggghhh – still gives me the absolute willies!
Also (and related to above) Victorian dolls with the white faces – I still dream about then walking across the bedroon floor towards me!
I was taken to a pantomime of Trudi and the Minstrel when I was 4. In this ‘delightful’ entertainment a bunch of trolls kidnap people and turn their hearts to stone. Also, there was a dragon. I was terrified to turn out the lights for months, and convinced for years that trolls lived in our airing cupboard and would come for my heart if I lingered in the bathroom.
As a kid I hated The Velveteen Rabbit. Hated it. It was so unfair, the rabbit saves the little boy and gets *set on fire*! But my babysitter watching Adventures in Babysitting? That was so horrible I hid in my room and read The Velveteen Rabbit over and over until the movie was done.
Also Labyrinth, specifically the scene where the girl thinks she is home to her room, and the scary old woman comes in to help her tie all her belongings to her back. For some reason the idea of having to constantly hold all your stuff was deeply upsetting, and I still get nightmares about it now.
The Wizard of Oz? My favorite movie when I was 4.
Hmm. I had quite a list as a kid:
There was a singing orange on sesame street that FREAKED me OUT. I would not stay in the room and ran out any time that thing came on.
My older brother got a rubber gorrilla (maybe a foot tall at most) and terrorized me with it ALL the TIME, until it was put on top of the refridgerator, then later just disappeared. It was never confirmed, but we’re pretty sure our dad trashed it when my brother wasn’t looking.
The dancing muppet things in ‘The Labrinth’ to this day creep me out – heads are NOT supposed to detatch, thank you very much!
Oh, and the snuggle bear needs to die.
Not a thing, but an activity that is meant to amuse children: pointing out shapes in the clouds. It used to absolutely creep me out to think of anything up in the sky other than just…well, you know, clouds.
The Bloom County strip in which Milo and Otis are watching clouds, Milo points out one that looks like a giant hand, and looks back to find Otis gone – one of my favorites because it riffs so well on that old childhood fear.
That’s so weird, this was the exact topic they were taking calls about on the radio when I was driving to work this morning.
The Roald Dahl book Witches and the movie made from it freaked me out so bad when I was a kid. I have no idea why I watched the movie after reading the book except I think my sister wanted to but I had nightmares for ages afterwards.
“Airplane”. The movie. The one with Leslie Nielson. We went to see it in theaters and I had to be taken to the back of the theater to calm down. There were people puking up whole eggs with birds in them and people turning to jelly and horrifying things like that. That one girl got her IV yanked out. They were lining up to beat some old lady senseless.
A very disturbing movie.
The Hanna-Barbera Popeye cartoons in the 1970s had an episode where Popeye and Olive Oyl went searching for the lost treasure of Marie Antoinette (“Spring Daze in Paris” — thank you, Google). I was about 7 when this cartoon ran, and reading a little too far afield, and by coincidence I had just recently learned that Marie Antoinette had died at the guillotine, and what that meant. I thus watched this little cartoon in horror, expecting that at any moment a severed head would pop out of the screen. I was terrified for several days; my parents made valiant efforts to calm me down but they had no idea what was going on in my confused little brain.
@40,61 and 72 I had forgotten how the flying monkeys creeped me out when I was little. They gave me nightmares every time The Wizard of Oz was on,only once a year but still….
Oh, this is an easy one. I was four years old, at Disney World. You know, the Magic Kingdom. Where everyone is happy.
Everyone except for me, who turned around at the wrong moment during the jungle cruise and came face to face with a giant man eating snake that hissed at me. Not only did I spend the rest of the ride hiding in the center of the boat (my loving parents took photos) I came out of that trip with a life long fear of snakes.
I still to this day refuse to believe my parents when they claim it was an animatronic snake. What do they know anywau they weren’t the ones in danger of being eaten!
America’s Funniest Videos. That awful show that relatives of mine always had to watch and laugh at and thought was the greatest thing ever. I would go there and be forced to watch it and be icked out by the fact that 90% of the videos were of nonconsenting children having had incredible painful and embarrassing looking accidents. Made me realize how much adults were probably laughing at my own little kid clutziness.
Mean, man. I tell you. It’s just mean.
I am 42 and remember being very, very young, maybe 4 and dancing to that show with dick clark, american bandstand. i just loved it and when everyone would wave good-bye at the end i would jump around and wave back and giggle and wish it wasn’t over…….then one time when the end came, it suddenly dawned on me…..if i was waving and they were waving……hmmmm….so i waved again, and oh yeah……..yikes……..one waved back……..then they all started to wave good – bye to me as i slowly, yet still waving but real slow like as i just backed on up to the kitchen to see what mom was doing and if it just so happened to be on tv for someone else’s viewing pleasure or pressure ha ha i would do anything to avoid having to see it, i just knew those people in there could see me, it was the creepiest feeling in the entire world.
the pirates of the carribean at disneyland? well i became hysterical just thinking of going on this ride which is why it sort of disturbs me that my folks made me go on it, but i was never more terrified in all of my life i kept my eyes closed the whole time and protected my brand new cinderella watch from getting wet…..i tried to use that as an excuse to get out of having to go on the ride but it didn’t work i guess, all i know i was hunched over the entire ride, eyes closed and when we would go down the whoops in the water i was sure it would be a neverending fall ending in our sure death, terrifying, crazy huh?
I was five years old and my mother read “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs to me as a bedtime story. Two days later my father returned from a business trip. He had gotten me a stuffed monkey and happily presented it to me. I spent the next 8 years terrified of it. I slept with it because I knew if I didn’t, it would kill me.
I’ve always been freaked out by injuries to the eyes. And because I’m very nearsighted (glasses since age 8), I’m irrationally very worried I’ll lose my glasses and then be somewhat handicapped.
Therefore, the Fireys from Labyrinth FREAKED ME OUT SO MUCH. I had nightmares that I would take out my eyeballs and then lose them. It still disturbs me.
@S t e v e B u r n a p – yes! That damn movie tortured me every year. Why did I watch it?
@aimee – me too!
Also, the Brady Bunch 2-part tiki episode freaked me out.
A campy movie which combined the classic Western with Dracula. For some reason I totally missed the silly intent and cultivated a habit of thoroughly covering my neck before going to sleep for at least a year after that. I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old.
And earlier than that – a “Holly Hobby” doll. Large rag doll with a Mona Lisa smile. That stupid little smile freaked me out until one day I took a magic marker and drew a great big grin in its place.
Oh lord — and that “Brady Bunch” where Bobby idolized Jesse James, and then the fantasy sequence where James SHOT HIS FAMILY DEAD and Bobby’s all, “No Jesse James, Stop!” (I particularly hated the bit where he made them throw their jewelry out into the aisle and then face. I remember Cindy actually fumbling in her purse and then throwing it. So much futility in that.)
Oh. The claymation sequences on the Gumby show. Yep. Stuff o’ nightmares, literally.
As a real young kid I once crawled out of bed to hide behind the couch and secretly watch the movie my parents were watching. I was super quiet; playing detective was a current pastime for me and I was in Spy Mode. I crept behind the couch and watched all of Tremors with them. And then I cried myself to sleep, terrified beyond thought or reasoning of the giant, mucus-filled worms punching holes into the ground and slurping people up in their huge, spiky-toothed, vaginal mouths. and then the extra little worms wriggling out of that, like medusa’s pubes? I mean, c’mon, I was like, 6. I had bad dreams for 2 straight weeks after that, couldn’t color inside the lines, i was so dead from exhaustion. I only recently discovered, around when I turned 20, that those movies are listed as humorous, not as terrifying horror cum-documentary. And no, I have never watched a single Tremors movie since.
Clowns. Okay, it’s more specific than that. When I was about five, a cousin goaded me into watching Steven King’s It. The scene I remember most from that movie is the one where the little toy paper sailboat drifts along the curb in some runoff water and into the sewer. That’s a particularly traumatic memory that is embarassingly innocuous typed out.
The house we were staying in also had porceline figurines of clowns in every bathroom. Not a fun combination. I’m not going to say that was a bed-wetting moment, but draw your own conclusions. Because it’s either that, or the remembering my five year old self having a wee in what I interpreted as a ninja’s combat ready stance.
To that end, I have recently found out that children’s toys in general creep me out. My wife’s mother picked up a little play area thing for our baby. One section is cordoned off by three five inch high likenings of a lion, monkey, and some sort of white bear thing.
The lion seems cool. Which is wierd, right? Because man-eating lions. But the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was a childhood favorite.
The monkey is slightly off-putting. And the white-not-a-polar-bear-bear with purple cheek accents strikes me as positively demonic. The smile on its face makes me think venison, human style, is clearly on its menu. It creeps the hell out of me. The kid loves it though.
Oh yeah, and public showers. Between the shower scene in It and that one time the really old men were walking around naked in the public pool lockerroom. They are right out.
My Little Pony Beddy-Bye Eye baby ponies. (Actually, they’re still rather unnerving.)
I guess the prime contender is a TV series, called “Vilse i pannkakan” (Lost in the Pancake).
The set-up is that the creator of the series, a bearded man in his mid-30s, is playing a little boy, Vilse, who is forced to eat his rather enormous pancake by his parents, only there as booming, echoing noises.
Unknown to them, there is a whole village of doll people (made by the creator and animated by him) living in/on/under the pancake (it flips over top display the village).
There’s also the sinister Storpotäten (the Large Potato), who ambles about, killing inhabitants.
I guess it was supposed to be amusing, being a kid’s TV show. It wasn’t very amusing at all and has repeatedly been blamed for traumatising my generation. I remember thinking, at the time, that the pancake would have to be extraordinarily dense, to allow people and lakes to exist on the underside, without falling off. I haven’t, yet, made a mass estimate, but it’d need to sustain in the region of 0.5-1 G on the underside, placed at approximately the surface of the Earth.
Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who – it was actually run on a local TV station after school – they had a SF block of Space:1999, Doctor Who and Star Trek. It only lasted a few months, but it was glorious while it was there. But watching the Doctor Who episodes, I saw Terror of the Autons and it freaked me out – I watched it again recently on DVD and it brought back all the creepiness.
@78–I am with you on that one. That one puppet with the freakishly large red nose was the worst, like W.C. Fields in puppet form.
Also, my grandparents had this child-sized monkey stuffed animal that everyone thought was cute, but it sat at the foot of the bed in the attic, which had no overhead lighting, just a couple of small lamps, and the stairs up there were narrow and tall–let’s just say that a lot of the time when I was supposed to be sleeping, I was keeping an eye on that monkey, in case it decided to leap over the end of the bed onto me.
Re Josh @ #95: One of my cousins had a pet raccoon. When it died, of old age, he had it stuffed amd mounted on a section of log in a life-like pose and kept it in his room. I stayed over one night during the standard thunder storm. Lightening, thunder and waking up suddenly to see a raccoon ready leap was not a fun experience. Memorable but not fun.
Sitting on my grandma’s lap. Especially if she was wearing shorts. Her leg hair was prickly and borderline painful on toddler legs. Yuck, but thanks for the cookie.
Shrinky-Dinks or those capsule thingies you put in water and foam sponges shaped like dinosaurs or whatever popped out. Basically any toy that got bigger or smaller than it should be or turned from one thing into something else.
When I was about 10, my parents helped out with the church youth group Hallowe’en party. They decided to bring home the life-sized scarecrow from the party, and set it up on a chair in my room so that I would see it in the morning when I woke up. Round about 3am I became aware of a strange man in my bedroom, staring at me. After 4 hours of being too terrified to move, there was finally enough light for me to figure out what was going on.
The 1958 William Castle movie called “Macabre”, especially the scene in the rain-lashed graveyard with the child in the coffin.
Also the fire martian/devil from the Hammer film, “Quartermass and the Pit”.
Both led to recurring uncomfortable dreams.
E.T., mostly because of free-association. When the movie came out, my dad was reading Cujo. I was only four or five, but I was a fairly advanced reader. One day, I read the description on the back of the book. There was a line that went something like “red eyes glowing in the dark,” and all I could think of was E.T.’s heart.
That did it. I was terrified of the alien everyone else claimed was adorable. (Of course, the scene in the movie where they’re going into the house in biohazard suits didn’t help…)
The other thing that freaked me out was Vincent Price’s rap in “Thriller.” Zombies dancing? Fine. But as soon as Vincent Price started talking, I’d flee. I remember my mother having the stereo up really loud one night, and the song came on. I ran into the bathroom and turned all the taps on full-force so I couldn’t hear it.
@nerdycellist #42–Fittingly, that Dr. Seuss story is called “What Was I Scared Of?” It scared me, too, so now of course I read it to my own children.
I can’t think of anything else that was designed to amuse but scared me instead. I spent all my freak-out time imagining my future demise by a) quicksand; b) Portuguese Man-O-War; or c) Poe-type swinging pendulum.
I’m in agreement with Gene Wilder’s crazy/scary Willy Wonka and the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys, but I’m surprised not to have seen anyone mention the “Child Catcher” from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” The guy with the greasy, long black hair, giant nose and funereal clothing- I’m guessing he was a thinly-veiled representation of a child kidnapper, and it worked for me.
And don’t forget the “Trilogy of Terror” killer African doll!
The television show “Unsolved Mysteries” freaked me out when I was about eight. I wasn’t bothered by the gruesome murder mysteries or kidnapped children bits. Instead, it was the segments about alien abductions or demonic possession that gave me nightmares. I also have a very vivid memory of an alien from “V” tearing off its fake human skin to reveal green lizard skin. That kept me up at night for a while.
If my brother was replying to this, he’d probably say that Glo-worms scared him. Those were toy worms with soft, cuddly bodies. When you squeezed them, their heads would light up. I used to terrify my brother by sneaking into his room at night and making his Glo-worm light up. It took my mom a few weeks to figure out why he kept waking up screaming.
Glancing through I notice most of these are things that SCARE rather than CREEP.
Casper the Friendly Ghost creeped me out. Not scared, CREEPED.
A dead child as the lead character. Yet I remember getting up early to watch it. I avoided the Betty Boop with ghosts and Cab Calloway singing Minnie the Moocher yet I looked for Casper. I can’t figure out why I watched Casper.
Link to the Betty Boop:
Hey! Thanx for this beautiful place of the Inet!!
So, I like to o play games about animals and taking care of them. I found a website called foo-pets. but its confusing
What are some other websites you can adopt and take care of a virtual pet?